Current applications

Few plant species are at present propagated on a large scale via embryogenesis in vitro. This method of morphogenesis does however offer advantages which suggest that it will be used increasingly for plant cloning in the future:

• In some monocotyledons (e.g. cereals, date palm and oil palm) it provides a method of micropropagation where shoot culture has not been successful (but note however that in some attempts to clone oil palms through embryogenesis, the resulting plants have been very variable);

• Providing embryogenic cell suspensions can be established, plantlets can theoretically be produced in large numbers and at much lower cost because plantlets do not have to be handled and subcultured individually;

• Somatic embryos probably provide the only way for tissue culture methods of plant propagation to be economically deployed on extensively planted field crops and forest trees.

Techniques for the conversion (germination) and field planting of somatic embryos are discussed in Volume 2.

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